OCD and Health Anxiety: What’s the Difference?

Several people confuse OCD with health and fitness anxiety. When well being panic can resemble OCD, they are not the identical thing.

We all could be concerned about our wellness from time to time — but if continuous health nervousness is interfering with your day-to-day everyday living, it could be time to seek help.

Even though some people’s obsessive-compulsive dysfunction (OCD) focuses on their wellness, wellbeing anxiety (from time to time identified as hypochondriasis) is not a kind of OCD, and OCD can include ideas and anxieties that aren’t similar to health issues.

If you’re experiencing OCD, health and fitness stress and anxiety, or both equally, helpful therapies are accessible.

In shorter, no health nervousness and OCD are two various principles.

OCD requires getting repetitive, upsetting, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and sensation the have to have to deal with individuals obsessions with rituals (compulsions), which can also be distressing.

Occasionally obsessions and compulsions emphasis on a “theme.”

Illustrations of OCD themes contain:

  • harm OCD, which is exactly where you be concerned that you’ll damage yourself or other individuals
  • symmetry or purchase OCD, where by you feel nervous when factors are not in get
  • religious OCD, in which you fear about accidentally or deliberately sinning

It is also probable for your OCD to revolve all over fears of disease.

Contamination OCD is a form of OCD where by you have obsessions and compulsions close to filth and germs, often with an underlying panic that you will become ill.

Common contamination-relevant compulsions include:

  • extreme handwashing
  • excessive cleansing
  • trying to get reassurance from health professionals

It is also probable to have health and fitness-linked obsessions and compulsions that aren’t concentrated on contamination. For case in point, you could experience the will need to repeat a mantra to “protect” oneself towards disease or unexpected loss of life.

Overall health stress is characterized by irrational worries about obtaining major health care disorders. A person with wellbeing anxiety may possibly imagine signs or symptoms or misinterpret slight signs as a sign that they have a major well being issue.

Health stress and anxiety is not categorized as a unique ailment in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Issues, 5th version (DSM-5).

Having said that, if you knowledge considerable stress about your well being, you might be classified as having:

  • disease nervousness condition, which is when you have no bodily signs and symptoms or only delicate signs or symptoms
  • somatic symptom ailment, which is when you have actual physical indications that you perceive as distressing

We may perhaps all sense anxious about our overall health from time to time. It’s typical to be anxious about your health and to fear about the probability of falling unwell. All through the COVID-19 pandemic, in individual, a lot of men and women understandably felt especially concerned about their well being.

However, health and fitness anxiety goes over and above standard degrees of problem. Wellbeing stress and anxiety gets an situation when it interferes with your capability to operate. For case in point, it may possibly interfere with your interactions, school or function efficiency, and other places of your everyday lifetime.

In some cases, people today with genuine diseases have their signs or symptoms dismissed as sickness panic ailment. When you’re suffering from this, it is not easy to convey to no matter whether your concerns are justified or whether or not you are possessing irrational anxieties about your health and fitness.

There is no litmus test for this, but possibly way, you deserve compassionate therapy that requires your problems very seriously, even if they are not symptomatic of a bodily health issues. Getting wellbeing stress and anxiety is not the exact as “faking” or exaggerating ailment. It is a condition that should really be taken seriously.

What is the big difference concerning health and fitness panic and OCD? It’s uncomplicated to oversight 1 for the other.

Equally include what might seem to be like irrational anxieties, distressing views about overall health, and using abnormal steps to stay away from slipping unwell or currently being identified with an health issues.

Because the DSM-5 doesn’t categorize health and fitness anxiety as a psychological sickness, it does not specify any signs or symptoms. Even so, “health anxiety” refers to remaining irrationally anxious about your health and fitness — especially, that you have a health-related situation.

Overall health stress can refer to sickness anxiety problem or somatic symptom ailment.

Illness anxiety disorder

The indicators of disease nervousness condition include things like:

  • getting preoccupied with getting or obtaining a really serious ailment for 6 months or for a longer time (despite the fact that the precise health issues you panic could alter in the course of that time) inspite of having no somatic indicators
  • regularly examining one’s system for indicators of health issues
  • consistently checking in with doctors or in search of medical care or the reverse: maladaptively keeping away from professional medical appointments
  • getting quite nervous about well being
  • staying conveniently alarmed about personalized overall health issues

To be identified with sickness stress and anxiety disorder, the health care professional should really rule out the probability that your symptoms are brought on by melancholy and other mental ailments.

Somatic symptom condition

Whilst health issues panic dysfunction can revolve around imagined indicators, somatic symptom dysfunction is when real soreness and symptoms trigger you significant distress.

The signs or symptoms of somatic symptom condition contain:

  • suffering from wonderful distress or disruption because of to a single or much more physical symptoms
  • excessive ideas connected to these signs, especially remarkably anxious feelings
  • extreme time and strength put in on wellness worries

This problem can only be diagnosed if at the very least a person symptom is continually existing, whilst the character of the symptom can modify in excess of time.


On the other hand, OCD is precisely characterised by obsessions and compulsions.

The indicators of OCD incorporate:

  • obsessions, which are intrusive, distressing, persistent thoughts, visuals, or urges
  • compulsions, which are specific acts you execute regularly to stop the ideas or soothe your distress

According to the DSM-5 conditions for diagnosing OCD, your obsessions and compulsions have to consider up at minimum an hour of your day or appreciably affect your capability to perform.

In OCD, your obsessions and compulsions may well revolve around far more than just health. For example, if you also working experience obsessions and compulsions about security from crime or purely natural disasters, it might suggest that OCD is at play, not just wellness anxiety.

Irrespective of no matter if you have OCD, ailment nervousness ailment, or somatic symptom dysfunction, it can assist to look for skilled assist. All a few difficulties can be addressed, and therapy is the initially port of phone.

Therapists frequently use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat OCD, health issues panic ailment, and somatic symptom disorder. A unique variety of CBT termed exposure and response avoidance (ERP) treatment is notably effective for dealing with OCD.

Self-treatment methods can be beneficial for everyone with a mental health dysfunction or anybody who’s currently enduring a great deal of tension and anxiousness. This can incorporate:

In some circumstances, medication can be prescribed for OCD or overall health stress, although this isn’t often needed.

Wellbeing stress and anxiety is not a type of OCD, but it can seem related. Sickness panic dysfunction and somatic symptom ailment, nevertheless, have quite distinctive analysis standards as opposed to OCD.

Each health stress and OCD are treatable. These disorders can be managed by way of remedy and self-treatment strategies.

If you suspect you have OCD or health and fitness anxiousness — or if you’re just feeling especially anxious about falling ill — you’re not by yourself. Support is obtainable.

Not guaranteed in which to get assist? Consider a appear at Psych Central’s assets on obtaining a therapist and picking just one that will work for you.